New South Welshman Dimitrios Papadatos and England’s Mel Reid have won the 2017 Oates Vic Open at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links in Barwon Heads.
Firing 1-under 71 in the final round, Papadatos won the title by two shots from Adam Bland and Jake McLeod.
It was an excellent week for Papadatos who fired rounds of 68, 64, 69 and 71 for a tournament total 16-under 272.
Victory didn’t come easy, tough weather conditions made the final round a grind for the field but Papadatos held strong to win the title.
“I stayed patient all day and it turned out pretty good,” said Papadatos.
“It was a massive grind. I knew it was going to be a long tough day but I played pretty solid golf and didn’t take too many risks. I was right up there so I didn’t need to chance my arm too much.”
Finishing the group ahead of his nearest rival, Jake McLeod, Papadatos watched to see if the Queenslander could make an eagle on the 18th to force a playoff.
“It was a little bit nerve racking but I wasn’t too worried about it,” added Papadatos.
“I did my job and if Jake made an eagle on the last it would’ve been fantastic to go to a playoff but I wasn’t thinking about it too much.”
This becomes Papadatos’ second win on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, but first on home soil after he won the 2014 New Zealand Open.
Between his two victories, Papadatos has spent time competing on the European Tour, learning a tough lesson about what it takes to compete at the top echelons of world golf.
“I learned a lot last year and realised I had a lot of work to do,” added Papadatos.
“As hard as it was, as much I hated it over there and had a miserable time, I think it’s paid off to know what to expect when I get over there next time.
“Obviously I’m playing better than what I was in Europe. I’ve found a bit of form but the guys over there are really good.
“If I played like I did this week, over there, I’d be right up there, but week in week out I’ve got a bit of work to do.”
Coming home at the end of 2016, Papadatos committed to working hard, forgoing a Christmas break to ensure he was primed for the start of the 2017 season.
The hard work has paid off and he returns to the European Tour next week via the tri-sanctioned ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth buoyed by confidence from his Oates Vic Open win.
“I just kept practicing in my break. Last year I had a bit of a holiday, just cruised around with my mates and didn’t do too much practice because I was golfed out,” said Papadatos.
“I told myself I wanted to be fresh for tournaments, this year I thought to myself don’t worry about being fresh, you’ve got nothing at the moment so start working straight away, you don’t need the holidays.
“I thought I was coming in to a little bit of form, it came a bit earlier than expected, but really happy with it.
“This win is massive; it’s momentum going in to next week which is nice and three years exemption on the PGA Tour of Australasia which frees me up to try and work my way in to Europe again.
“I’m really looking forward to trying to get back over there.”
For his win Papadatos collected AUD$90,000, the winner’s share of the AUD$500,000 up for grabs. This shoots him to the top of the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasian Order of Merit early in the season.
With McLeod and Bland sharing runner-up honours, veterans David McKenzie and Richard Green finished tied 4th on 13-under the card.
Rounding out the top-10 on 12-under the card were Adam Blyth, Max McCardle, David Bransdon, Lucas Herbert, Jake Higginbottom and leading amateur Min Woo Lee.
Reid takes women’s title
It took three extra holes to separate Solheim Cup teammates Mel Reid and Sandra Gal, but it was Englishwoman Reid who held firm to take top honours.
After Gal failed to go up-and-down from behind the green on 13th Beach’s closing Beach Course hole, Reid drained a four-foot putt for her sixth Ladies European Tour title.
Reid tragically lost her mother in a car accident in mid-2012, the 29-year-old revealing after she collected her silverware that she’d had a feeling her trip to Barwon Heads would be a special one.
“I don’t know, I had a good feeling about this week, there’s just been a few things,” said Reid.
“I didn’t wanna mention to anyone at the start of the week, but it was my Mum’s birthday this week on Tuesday so I just thought that something good had to happen.
“Then we were warming up on the putting green and my Mum’s favourite film was dirty dancing and they were playing the theme.
“I just said to Benji my caddie, ‘I’ve got a feeling, I’ve just got a feeling about this week mate, it’s fate’.”
Runner-up Gal was in the day’s penultimate pairing, leading the charge for most of the afternoon with Reid, local hope Su Oh and American Angel Yin threatening to draw level.
Reid led by two overnight but got off to a nightmare start, plummeting to 3-over through four holes – the lowlight being a double-bogey at the par-5 7th.
Meanwhile Gal was all class, her fifth birdie of the day coming at the par-3 17th which took her one stroke clear of Reid who still had four holes to play.
After picking up a stroke on the par-5 14th Reid responded immediately, her third birdie of the round coming at the 16th to draw scores level.
She had a chance to end proceedings in regulation time after she settled just short of the green for two.
Her long putt up the false front slid by the pin, Reid leaving herself too much work to do down the hill and handing Gal a lifeline.
On the first playoff hole Reid miscalculated again, her long putt onto the green from a similar position this time coming up well short.
Gal failed to make her pay by missing a birdie try of her own, the second playoff hole following a similar narrative as Gal again failed to get her birdie putt to drop.
It was Gal who blinked first after nearly six hours since walking off the first teebox, a wayward drive forcing her to punch her way up the fairway as Reid launched at the green with another 3-wood.
Gal’s approach sailed long and left, and despite nearly holing her chip shot, she failed to save par and prolong proceedings.
“I just didn’t start it right enough and then obviously rode the wind and went a little long,” Gal said after the loss.
“And then the chip just got a little firm bounce, it was a little unfortunate.
“It’s been a long day and Ive had to focus all day long quite hard so it was quite tough to keep every shot high quality.”
Reid didn’t share those thoughts after the trophy ceremony, revealing she was ready for as much golf as it would take in order to earn the winner’s cheque of $75,000.
“I’d say I’m relatively fit and I could just keep going and going and going,” said Reid.
“I wouldn’t have minded how many holes we played, I felt pretty fresh to be quite honest.”
One thing the duo did agree on was the taxing weather, Reid prepared to consider Sunday’s final round one of the toughest of her career.
“It was honestly brutal out there, it was one of the toughest winds I’ve ever had,”
“Just a true test of golf, it brought a lot of character out there today.
“I remember back to Turnberry, it was one of the best rounds I’ve ever shot… when the British Open was there.
It really was a brutal test and fair play to Sandra, what’d she shoot today, 4-under? That’s an incredible round of golf.”
World Number 79 Gal echoed those thoughts and was already trying to take the positives despite the disappointing finish.
“It just played really, really tough today and I shot a great round to get myself in the playoff so I think I can be proud of myself for playing well,” said Gal.
“At time I felt like I was at at a British Open today.
“We get that about once a year so its definitely great practise.”
Local hope Oh was close on Sunday but couldn’t reel in the leading duo, the Victorian matching Reid’s round of 1-under 72 to finish two shots out of the playoff.
She shared third position on the standings with playing partner Yin, with South Korean amateur Hye-Jin Choi rounding out the top 5 at 12-under for the week.